Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson announced Tuesday he’s temporarily stepping aside after he was diagnosed with cancer.
“As a man of intense faith, I intend to fight and win the battle against this disease,” the 50-year-old lawman said in a statement.
“I humbly seek your sincere prayers as I confront this challenge and respectfully ask that you honor my family’s need and wish for privacy during this time.”
Thompson didn’t specify the type of cancer but he noted that “during absences for treatment and recovery,” chief assistant Eric Gonzalez would run the office.
Spokesman Oren Yaniv said his boss’ temporary leave was effective Tuesday.
The surprise announcement drew well wishes from numerous city and state officials.
“I want to wish my friend and Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson all the best as he temporarily steps aside to take care of what’s most important,” Mayor de Blasio said.
“I have no doubt District Attorney Thompson will tackle this challenge with the same resolve and determination with which he serves the people of Brooklyn.
Gov. Cuomo wished Thompson a “speedy recovery in his fight against cancer.”
Thompson is believed to have last appeared in public on July 18 when he discussed the national gun crisis at an event organized by the Reuters news agency.
“Keeping my friend and colleague @BrooklynDA in my prayers as he takes on this tough fight,” state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman tweeted. “Ken, we are all behind you.”
@BrooklynDA Very sorry to hear this, DA! Sending strength from the second city to the first.
— Eva Nagao (@evanagao) October 4, 2016
In his three years on the job, Thompson has garnered praise for devoting substantial resources toward probing old, questionable cases.
Thompson is credited with overturning 21 wrongful convictions after establishing one of the country’s largest units dedicated to re-investigating past cases.
But he was also the subject of unsavory headlines in August after he was hit with a $15,000 fine for making taxpayers pick up the tab for his daily lunch and dinners.
Thompson admitted he violated the city’s conflict rules by regularly putting in for reimbursements for his meals.
A former federal prosecutor, Thompson unseated his long-reigning predecessor Charles (Joe) Hynes in a landslide election in 2013.
Hynes ran on the Republican and Conservative Party ballot lines after losing to Thompson in the Democratic primary.
“I stand before you today, deeply grateful and truly humbled,” Thompson told supporters after he was declared the victor.
“The people of Brooklyn selected a man who started out life with the deck stacked against him as a child and made that man the next district attorney of Brooklyn.”
In defeat, Hynes became the first DA in the city to lose reelection since 1955 and the first sitting DA from Brooklyn to lose since 1911.
Thompson rose to prominence in 2011 when he defended the hotel maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, of sexually assaulting her.
The charges were later dropped but Diallo brought a civil suit that was settled for undisclosed terms.